General Lenten Points of Emphasis

Lent 2023 is officially underway. Thanks to Ash Wednesday, we are now on the journey to Holy Week. As I mentioned yesterday, Lent is a necessary time of preparation and reflection. In terms of tangibility, it takes the form of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Many Catholics will embrace Lenten intentions that practice these virtues to draw closer to God and to prepare for Easter.

Most of these individual Lenten intentions are also private intentions. Taking the cue from Matthew 6, it is important to perform Lenten deeds so God sees—not man. With that said, there are general Lenten attitudes that we can all adopt and strive for over the next 40 days. Here are three things to keep in mind as we try to make Lent 2023 as fruitful as possible…

Sloan and I after Ash Wednesday mass this morning.

Seize Control – In the end, God is ultimately in control and we need to always defer to him. But he did give us free will and we are faced with choices every single day that we must make. St. Paul sums up a depressing dilemma we all face by saying, “I don’t do what I want to do, and I do what I don’t want to do.” During Lent, let’s take every opportunity to do what we want to do in order to better walk with Jesus.

Stop the Noise – It is a timeless Lenten best practice to embrace silence and retreat from the cacophony of daily life. But each year it becomes seemingly harder and harder to do. Escaping notifications, text messages, emails, and other mindless distractions is difficult. However, it would serve all of us well to make a conscientious effort to block out the noise as much as possible. The power of total silence in the presence of God is something we all need.

Mend Relationships – Lent is the best time to reconcile with others. Whether big conflict or small conflict, we should reach out to those we have a strained relationship with. We can’t forget about God either. Repent and confess. As we walk through our personal deserts, we need to find opportunities to express humility.

May all my readers have a blessed Lent. God bless you all! Don’t Blink.

Lent 2023: A Necessary Time

A couple years ago, I listened as a priest was open and honest about his personal thoughts on Lent: It is not my favorite time, but it is a necessary time.

In a homily a couple years ago, I listened as a priest described Lent as, “Not my favorite time, but a necessary time.”

Both parts of his statement hit the mark. Lent commemorates, in part, the 40 days that Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert. Just like Christ suffered, we are also invited to suffer in our own personal deserts over the course of 40 days. Not exactly the “invitation” that most of us take delight in receiving, right?

Although we don’t generally count toiling in the desert as a “favorite time,” the point of Lent isn’t about that. The focus shouldn’t be about creating pleasant moments of comfort and excess. Rather, it is about embracing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

So where does the “necessary” part come in?

The Venerable Fulton Sheen said, “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” Although awful and violent, Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins. Without that death and the unspeakable suffering that accompanied it, there would be no Resurrection; there would be no Easter.

The next 40 days will culminate with Good Friday. This time of self-denial is necessary to adequately prepare for Easter. Because if we make no attempt to at least understand on an extremely small scale the suffering of Christ, how can we truly appreciate the most holiest of all feasts when it arrives this year on April 9?

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow! As I reflect on the priest’s words from his homily, I remind myself that the next 40 days are not supposed to be pleasant. Instead, they are supposed to be transformational and preparative. When it comes to recognizing Christ’s suffering and rejoicing in His victory over death, there is simply nothing more necessary than Lent. Don’t Blink.

Past Lenten Blog Posts
Lent 2022: Solidarity With Ukraine
The Lenten Road
The Journey of Lent
The Real Purpose of Lent

Contemplating Mortality

Today at Ash Wednesday mass, the familiar dictum was said as ashes were sprinkled on the foreheads of millions.

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

This blunt reminder of our mortality and the fate of our earthly bodies resonated just a little bit more this year. With multiple untimely deaths of people I know in early 2022, I have naturally taken time to reflect on the reality that my number will be called one of these days—perhaps tomorrow, perhaps 50 years from now. When that time comes, will I be ready?

I plan to reflect more on my mortality throughout Lent, which is the perfect time to do so. I also hope to live in a way that will better prepare me to be ready, embracing the other refrain that is uttered with the sprinkling of ashes: Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Ashes remind us of our mortality. Lent is a perfect time to reflect on it.

It is easy to become depressed and scared about death. But as we journey through Lent and delve more into suffering and our impending demise, we must not lose track of what awaits us at the end of these 40 days. On Easter Sunday we will celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the ultimate victory over death. Yes, we all will die in our own earthly way but there is the promise of eternal life that will be given to those who prepare accordingly. Let’s make the most out of Lent 2022 while remembering to keep everyone impacted by war in our hearts. Don’t Blink.

The 2021 Lenten Road

Sidney and I belong to a young adult Catholic group that draws from a couple of parishes in the Spokane Valley. This past weekend, Fr. Kevin Oiland was speaking about faith in terms of an adventure. It has a distinct journey that leads to a destination. The journey is of course one’s life on earth and the destination, hopefully, is eternal life with God.

It didn’t take long for us to apply this metaphor to another spiritual journey, one slightly smaller than the ultimate one described by Fr. Oiland.

Today is Ash Wednesday and thus the beginning of Lent. We will journey in our own temptation-filled deserts for 40 days before reaching our destination of Easter on April 4. Just like the journey for Salvation, this six-week voyage has the potential to be rocky. Sometimes the road can be a little treacherous but the key is to not let the conditions blind us from the plentiful opportunities of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer.

Lent is the journey and Easter is the destination.

This Lenten season I won’t be navigating alone. In 2013, I wrote about how Lent is a private time to grow spiritually and prepare for Easter. Three years ago, I focused more on the communal opportunities that this holy season also provides. So while I will individually try to draw closer to Jesus, I will also be walking Lenten Blvd. with a special person.

This is my wife’s first full Lent as a Catholic. She was welcomed into the Church last year shortly after Ash Wednesday but we spent most of the season apart because of the move out West. This year we will get to spend the entirety of Lent together as we trek hand in hand through that desert to Easter Sunday.

Is Lent easy? It shouldn’t be. Is it worth it? Absolutely. We need to properly prepare for Easter and Jesus gives us the perfect example of how to do that with his suffering in the desert. Let’s pray for each other as we go on our own Lenten journeys that not only will we be ready to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this April but that perhaps we will take positive steps to the ultimate destination we hope to reach one of these days. Don’t Blink.

Ordinary Middle of Month Thursday Rundown

Must say I didn’t mind the 75 degree weather we had today in Myrtle Beach. My parents and siblings, on the other hand, are enduring a big snow storm in Spokane. So, if you are in South Carolina go ahead and cool off with my latest Thursday Rundown but if you are in Washington state feel free to warm up with it (that probably didn’t make sense at all). Here we go…

Valentine’s Day Recap – Yesterday, Sid and I repeated our Valentine’s Day tradition we started in 2017 with one minor wrinkle – we let a little person join us! Sloan participated in our card exchange early Wednesday morning. Although she didn’t have a card to give, we still gave her one (and a couple toys). Our little girl also started her own mini Lenten journey when she participated in Ash Wednesday by receiving ashes. The combination of her Valentine’s Day outfit and the dusting of ash on her forehead made for a very special photo.

Note: Last night on social media, I posted the link to my 2013 Lenten blog post instead of the one I wrote yesterday evening. Sorry for the error. You can read my 2018 Lenten blog post by clicking here.

Sloan looked great sporting her Valentine’s Day outfit and ashes.

Instagram Safety – Although it wasn’t the reason why I wanted to be on the news, I did give a couple interviews this week to local stations about protecting yourself on Instagram. Recently, a fake Instagram account tried to scam some of our students. True to the intelligence of our students at CCU, most didn’t fall for it. I spoke with WPDE and WMBF about the incident and gave advice on how to spot a fraud. Thanks to Summer Dashe and Amy Kawata for their stories.

I was on the news earlier this week discussing Instagram safety.

Reunited With A Winner – Last Friday, the Coastal softball team opened up the 2018 season by hosting Iowa State. The significance of this? The Cyclones are led by Jamie Pinkerton, the man who was hired at the University of Montana to start its softball program. Coach Pinkerton joined the Griz athletic department about seven months before I left for CCU. During that short time period I got to know Jamie and really respected how he went about beginning a program from scratch and also by how he treated me. It was no surprise that he had tremendous success at Montana and was quickly hired as the head coach at Iowa State. At the end of last week, I got to see Coach Pinkerton win his debut with the Cyclones and I also had the pleasure of catching up with him. The guy is a pure winner.

I was reunited with Jamie Pinkerton this past Friday.

Winter Olympics Review – As many of you know, I was lacking enthusiasm for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Probably because I set the bar so low, I now find myself kind of enjoying the games. Over the past week, I have watched the early morning coverage while working out at the gym and then Sid and I have fallen asleep watching the primetime coverage. Although still nowhere close to the Summer Olympics in terms of entertainment and prestige, I am blown away by the talent and fearlessness of some of these athletes.

Sloan at 48 Weeks – Sloan is wrapping up her second consecutive healthy week. She babbles non-stop and is a handful to keep tabs on, even if she is still just crawling. Her hair is really coming in and it is starting to resemble that of a little girl. She is extremely sweet in the mornings and a “little monster” (our term of endearment for her) around 7 – 9 p.m. She is starting to pull herself up and she is having a great time experimenting with real people food. On Saturday she will be 11 months!!

Here is Sloan’s 48 week collage.


To all those people who hate Valentine’s Day, take solace that it is now over and the weekend is right around the corner. Thanks for reading! Don’t Blink.

The Journey of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, a major day on the Catholic liturgical calendar and those of many other Christian denominations as well. Although not a Holy Day of Obligation, Ash Wednesday mass is one of the most highly-attended services during the year. It kicks off the holy season of Lent, a period of 40 days (technically 46 days) where we prepare for Easter by trying to emulate the suffering that Jesus Christ endured by Satan in the desert over the same course of time.

What does your Lenten journey look like?

Five years ago, I wrote about Lent through the eyes of an individual. As Christians, we are not only called to fast, pray, and give alms but we are asked to do it in a private manner. The gospel clearly says that when we make a big deal about doing righteous acts, we are seeking the praise of others, not God. When we aim to earn praise from our social media followers or our friends, we will lose out on our reward in Heaven. Thus, it is important not to openly publicize or gloat about our Lenten intentions.

However, Lent is not meant to be confined solely within ourselves. Rather, over the next 40 days, the opportunities are plentiful to grow closer to Jesus as a Christian community. Daily mass, group rosary, Stations of the Cross, communal confession, bible studies, and Friday fish frys are great ways to connect with others as we journey toward Easter. Although our personal sacrifices are meant to be kept private, our desire to understand and anticipate the resurrection of the Lord is not.

In my opinion, there is no better road to take than the Lenten road. Easter is the holiest day on the calendar for all Christians and it takes preparation to properly celebrate it. Through fasting, praying, and almsgiving we give ourselves plenty of time to meditate and reflect on both the darkest hour of mankind (the Passion) and the glorious moment of redemption. It is tough to truly understand and appreciate these events if we just “wing it.”

This morning at Ash Wednesday mass, our parish administrator at St. Andrew, Fr. Roger Morgan, explained the symbolism of the ashes perfectly. He said they aren’t applied so we can “identify ourselves as part of a tribe” (i.e. Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, etc.). Instead, they are applied to identify ourselves simply as sinners. It is pure reality. We are all sinners and there is no better way to come to grips with this and truly focus on it than six weeks before Easter.

Although most of us wiped the ashes off our foreheads at the conclusion of the service we attended, it is important to act as if they are still there. Lent is a time to humble ourselves and draw closer to God. We need to accept that we are sinners but do everything possible to overcome temptations and seek the narrow way. Don’t Blink.

The Real Purpose of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday. For the next 40+ days, Christians will embark on a very holy journey called Lent. This is a very beautiful time for growing with God in preparation for the most sacred day on the calendar, Easter.

This post is going to be very brief. I just want to get across what Lent is rather than what many perceive it to be. Lent is not about “giving something up”. It is not some silly New Year’s resolution. Rather, Lent is about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Of course, going without many gratifications is part of the fasting component of Lent. But there is so much more. In my opinion, what we decide to do during Lent is much more important than what we decide not to do considering prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are things you do, not things you “give up”.

Non-Catholics and Catholics alike sometimes confuse the purpose of Lent. It is NOT a time to get praise from others for what we do during the 40 days but a time to get closer to God. It is this reason why it is very important to never ask someone what they are doing for Lent or on the other hand to make public what we are doing for Lent. This is made very clear during today’s Ash Wednesday gospel reading (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21). Jesus taught us that hypocrites will let others know that they are fasting, praying, and giving alms. These people who let up their guard and let others know that they are not eating during a certain day or abstaining from meat or not partaking in a certain activity or practice have totally lost the purpose of doing so. Because they have confided in people and received their praise, they will not receive praise from God. However, those who do deeds in private so that others don’t know will receive praise from God.

But I am not here to give a scripture lesson. Not only am I 100% unqualified to do so, but I have way too many sins to ever attempt to preach the Good Word to anyone. I guess all that I want to do is just get the general message across, a message that everyone can easily understand: Lent is a private time for individuals. It is a time to get closer to God while forsaking any opportunity for attention and praise from others. 

To everyone who observes Lent, have the most blessed season ever. Don’t Blink.